Can an Employee Sue my Business if I have Workers Comp?Posted on Jul 28, 2016
For the most part, providing workers’ compensation benefits to employees bars those employees from suing your organization if they are injured on the job. It’s one of the many benefits employers receive by offering this valuable insurance coverage to employees. However, there are circumstances in which employers do not have the protection that providing workers compensation coverage affords.
It’s important to remember that each state has its own laws regarding insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance is no exception. With that in mind, these are a few exceptions that could allow employees to sue your business regardless of whether you provide workers’ comp to your employees.
- Invasions of Privacy – When the employee feels harmed because their images or other private information were distributed to a larger audience. This can include data breaches of employee records, discussing wage garnishments openly, and similar privacy invasions.
- Fraud – The employee thinks they were lied to or misled by the company about company benefits, salary, or paid time off and it caused emotional or financial harm.
- Failure to Disclose – You failed to disclose relevant information about benefits, insurance, or retirement that caused a delay in benefits or rendered them unable to receive benefits in a timely manner.
- Harassment, Unlawful Discrimination or Retaliation – When the employee believes that they were harassed, treated in a discriminatory manner or were retaliated against in some way for exercising a right.
Of course, having workers compensation insurance does not absolve you of your responsibility to provide employees with a safe work environment. If employees believe you were reckless, provided insufficient safety equipment, or hired someone without properly vetting that person (and said employee caused injuries to other employees) then your employees can elect not to receive workers’ compensation benefits and, instead, sue the business.
It is a risk for employees who need the benefits workers’ compensation provides. For the most part, they choose to accept the benefits that are offered them. In some cases, though, employees will elect this route, which is why it’s so important for employers to make safety a priority for their businesses and their workers by investing in proper safety gear and training and conducting thorough screenings and reference checks when hiring so that they do not hire people with histories of violence.
Finally protect yourself by documenting everything and making sure your employees have the workers compensation benefits they deserve. They are, after all, your biggest investment in your business. Let them know they are appreciated, keep them engaged, and conduct routine training about safety practices and procedures so that everyone knows what is expected to keep things in the workplace safe.
When you do these things, along with providing workers’ comp coverage, your employees are less likely to sue your business when disaster strikes. In fact, they’ll be more inclined to work hard so they can get back to work.
What Does Workers’ Comp Insurance Cover?
Workers comp insurance covers a wide range of expenses related to injuries received in the workplace. These injuries may include those from workplace accidents, slips and falls, illnesses from inhaling caustic chemicals, diseases contracted while working, and even death.
In addition to covering the expenses related to care for these conditions, workers compensation helps to replace some of the lost income workers experience while they are receiving treatment and recovering from their injuries. Death benefits are provided to the families of employees who are killed while working.